• David Moyes says Everton missed someone scoring '15 or 20'
• Lack of main goalscorer may have cost European place
The Champions League went unmentioned. So, too, the top-four finish that Everton have been chasing for eight years. Yet as David Moyes reflected on a season where only the Manchester clubs have proved harder to beat, his analysis suggested their striking deficiency is what will cost Everton a place in Europe's premier club competition.
"I think someone who could have got us 15 or 20 goals would maybe have made our position greater than it is," he said. They sit in sixth, outsiders in the battle for a place in the Europa League, and the statistics show the attacking imbalance among the contenders.
Everton are the lowest scorers of the top seven, possess the worst goal difference and are alone in lacking a player who has struck at least 17 times in all competitions. Marouane Fellaini has delivered a dozen goals while, epitomising the collective commitment of Everton, six others have chipped in with seven or eight apiece but no one has proved prolific.
Rewind a year and Moyes had a specialist predator. "We did," he said, recalling Nikica Jelavic's brilliant start to life at Goodison Park. Then he had seven goals in four games; now the Croatian has scored once in 18, having lost form and confidence. His substitution on Saturday was a merciful release. The first-time finisher supreme 12 months ago, his clinical touch has deserted him and one shot was so misdirected it went out for a throw.
His struggles have been greeted with sympathy and sadness. "The crowd are desperate for him to do well," Moyes said. "You can tell. There are other players who would maybe get criticised but they don't [criticise him]. They know how well he has done and what he is capable of. I think it's a bit of second-season syndrome."
Everton have been understanding, Jelavic apologetic. "He's been the first to accept that he needs to do better," Moyes said. "When you have people like that, it gives you a chance of improving." Having ruled out demoting Jelavic to the reserves, Moyes is hoping the striker will return from a summer break refreshed and ready to return to his productive best.
"We are just lacking in goals a wee bit," said Moyes, whose side have struck once in three games. "We just seem to sort of go astray around the edge of the box." Fulham's annual defeat at Goodison was a prime example of a victory that should have been more comfortable. Steven Pienaar's beautifully-constructed goal – the buildup was reminiscent of Manchester City's for Sergio Agüero's opener against West Ham United – was their only reward for some pleasing passing.
So Everton, who have drawn 14 times in addition to nine wins and four defeats by single-goal margins, are condemned to a series of close games. It is in the penalty box, perhaps, that the disparity in resources makes their task the hardest. Each of the fives sides above them, plus Liverpool, has a striker that cost at least twice as much as Jelavic, and in some cases far more than that.
Not that pleading poverty works with Martin Jol. "If you compare them with us, [Kevin] Mirallas cost £6m, Fellaini cost £15m, Pienaar £3 or £4m. Shall I go on? Look at my players: some of them are on loan or free transfers," the Fulham manager said.
Only the £4.5m forward Dimitar Berbatov, the Dutchman argued, qualified as expensive. His other forwards arrived without a transfer fee but, he insisted, that will not plunge Fulham into a relegation struggle next season.
"We will always find players like [Mladen] Petric or [Hugo] Rodallega," he said. "I will always find a solution."
Man of the match Seamus Coleman (Everton)